-Ana Maria and Viviane
You’re enthusiastic about your new cultural experience in The United States. You may also find yourself feeling a variety of other emotions, such as sadness, anger, loneliness, fear, anxiety or confusion.
There are language difficulties, the food differences, the loss of your close family/friend support system, the education system, work differences, and personal expectations.
The stress of it all touches on all areas of your life, but especially your family and other close relationships.
You may not even know what all of these emotions are about or what you’re even experiencing. Here’s a short list:
Homesickness: You miss the close relationships from your home country. Life back home goes on without you. You will miss major and minor milestones that help cement relationships. Your close relationships will grow more distant. This stress can manifest as sadness, depression, anger, and anxiety.
Culture Shock: You experience the loss of cultural familiarity, even if the new culture is similar to the previous one. Sometimes, subtle differences and misunderstandings arise and you feel like an outsider. You might be feeling lonely, or torn between two lives. Experiencing a loss of identity is common. Struggling with differing roles within family and work is also common. Even after the initial culture shock has passed, older issues of loss or trauma may reactivate. Expatriates often experience a unique level of ongoing social uncertainty.
Loss of Identity: The social uncertainty mentioned above manifests as confusion, anxiety, isolation, sadness, and worry. Questions arise such as “Who am I?”, “What is my role here?”, and “What is next for me?” The expatriate has unique challenges in this area.